“I’m trying to deal with being without her, and I feel connected to her when I’m serving.”
Dana Oncale Dufrene’s life was filled with moments of service with Kellie Growl. The two friends connected nearly eight years ago through commonalities like running, teaching and their deep faith, and Dufrene said she will never stop fighting to keep her sweet friend’s memory alive.
“She just wanted to live,” Dufrene said of Growl. “She truly made everyone feel so special … she was so amazing.”
Growl passed away in February after an eight-year cancer battle, and since then Dufrene has been busy raising money for Growl’s two children, Grace and Gavin.
First there was a March 26 memorial blood drive in Growl’s name.
“She saved 159 patients … it was amazing,” Dufrene said of the drive, adding that each blood donor counted as a $15 credit to the bill of Growl’s final hospital stay.
The next event Dufrene is organizing with Growl in mind is the final race of the school year for Luling Elementary School’s Running Club. The club is something that Dufrene and Growl worked on together during their years of teaching at LES.
“We started the running club to help students experience something new … something healthy,” Dufrene said. “When we started the club at LES, the name Loving Every Second was dropped in my heart. It now takes on a bigger meaning to me. Kellie truly loved every second of being a teacher and a running club mentor to our students. She wanted to be at Luling every day. She wanted to teach … she wanted to lead … she loved every second. This last year was torture for her … all she wanted to do was work. Our last event will be in her honor.”
Dufrene sold 178 shirts ahead of the April 11 race, with nearly $1,000 of proceeds benefitting Growl’s family.
“I’m open to however God wants to use me in the future,” Dufrene said. “I know he’s going to use me somehow.”